Education and social mobility

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2016
End date: 31/12/2019
Funding: 2632000 EUR


The main objective of this research project is to study the role of education in social mobility processes. Education is strongly influenced by family background and is one of the key structuring factors of labor market outcomes. This project will study the role of education at different stages in the process, from attainment to its role in the labor market, while acknowledging that education is a multidimensional concept. Most literature has treated education as a unidimensional concept (years of schooling), but this proposal will also analyze type of schooling and field of study. This proposal contains four nested parts. The choice of field of study in education contributes to social inequality since men and women of different social background choose different fields of education, and because these fields have different rewards in the labor market. We still know little about how individuals choose field of study, and the first objective is to analyze how social contact networks contributes to this choice. The prevailing social inequality means that children of different origins tend to observe and have contacts with vastly different types of persons, which they can use as role models and use to form expectations and aspirations. We also know little about why educational fields have differential rewards, mainly because individuals of different levels of ability and types of talent choose to study different fields. The second objective is to correct for this selection when analyzing differences in returns across fields. The third objective is to analyze whether returns on education, i.e., how much more one benefits from studying, differ for men and women of different social backgrounds. While those of advantaged origins study more, it is unclear if the returns are highest for this group, or if individuals of lower origin would have benefited more. Finally, the fourth and last objective is analyze how much of social mobility and reproduction in total that can be explained by education, while also taking all the insights from objectives one to three into account.

Last updated on 2017-05-04 at 11:39